Johannesburg. Durban. Centurion. 3 venues. 3 centuries. 1 man.
In a matter of one week, world champions India were swept away by 'Quinny'. A series whitewash was avoided in Centurion thanks to the thundershowers at the SuperSport Park. But for the Indians, the storm had already hit in the form of Quinton de Kock.
Knocks of 135, 106 and 101 during the 2013-14 tour shouldn't have been a concern for MS Dhoni, but how they were scored rang some panic bells. The classy left-handers effortless stroke-making against a potent bowling attack had caught the attention of the cricket pundits, with some even forecasting more hundreds had the series been longer.
The young de Kock had quite a reputation throughout his age-group cricket. He was South Africa's highest run-scorer during the U-19 2012 World Cup in Australia. The same year, his defining knock for the Lions in the Champions League T20 against Mumbai Indians brought him tremendous coverage. Such was the impact that he was drafted into the senior national side as a future wicket-keeping prospect.
Despite announcing himself on the international stage in the most unfathomable way, de Kock found himself at the fringes with AB de Villiers dawning the keeping duties. It wasn't until 2016 that he cemented his stature as a serious cricketer when he blasted five fifty-plus scores on the trot, with his last innings resulting in a series win against Australia in Hobart.
He doesn't give you a feeling of caring much of the formats. All he seemingly believes is timing the ball to perfection. One that reflects Sourav Ganguly's panache down the track to Yuvraj Singh's utter humiliation of left-arm off-spinners over the mid-wicket boundary.
Also see – PSL 2020 schedule
Unfortunately, class and talent don't guarantee a spot in the team, consistency does. Something which was found missing in de Kock for long; long enough to see the entire cricketing set-up of the Proteas come hurtling down.
His numbers as a player of the South Africa team weren't bad until his captaincy stats screamed attention. In 196 internationals, he scored 8651 runs with 19 hundreds, something which he would have taken while making his debut. As captain, de Kock averages 54.36!
If anyone needed visual proof of his batting credentials while leading a side, his mauling of the world's two fiercest bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, was a sight to behold. In consecutive deliveries, he stroked Cummins over mid-wicket and fine-leg for two sixes before bringing down the hype around Starc's short of good length balls by dismissing him into the stands at St. George's Park.
This isn't an uncanny batting display from an average cricketer from South Africa, rather it's a perfect way to start the expected career that he should've played earlier on in his career. Still 27, South Africa are experiencing a captain in the prime of his form, leading a young side who have nothing to lose. That is an invaluable asset that creates future winners.